Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
Rob, I’m still unclear why, if you want to promote your views, you don’t just post on these boards in a civil way. What’s the downside?
We are working from opposite beliefs as to what constitutes civility or kindness, Anonymous.
The proper response from John Greaney when I posted about the errors in his retirement study was for him to say “Thank you!” to me for having the courage to act in a way that would save him future embarrassment by permitting him to correct his mistake and get it quickly behind him rather than seeing this thing dragged out for years and years. John did not thank me. And his other friends failed to insist that he do so. I did insist. That’s true friendship. It is through John’s failings and the failings of his other friends that we got on the dark path that led us to the horrible place where we are today.
On October 23, 2002, I engaged in a second act of charity. I put up a post demanding John’s removal from the community. Motley Fool had said that they wanted to see a community expression of a desire for his removal before they would enforce the published rules of the site which called for the removal of posters who put up death threats. We got 25 votes for removal. Motley Fool did not consider that enough and John stayed on.
That’s why he is in a place today where he is headed for a prison sentence following the next price crash.
Say that John had been removed back in October 2002. Six months later, I would have asked Motley Fool to reinstate him. I believe that I would have gotten most of our fellow community members to endorse that request and Motley Fool would have gone along. So all our troubles would have been over. We wouldn’t be worrying about prison sentences today.
There is nothing “mean” about the published rules of our boards and blogs. And there is nothing “mean” about the laws we have forbidding financial fraud. We put these rules and laws in place to ENCOURAGE civility. We need to see that they are enforced in a reasonable manner if we are to insure that civility remains the order of the day.
Because too few of us had the courage to do the right thing back in 2002, we are all in a big mess today. I don’t like it, you don’t like it, Bogle doesn’t like it, Shiller doesn’t like it. But here we are.
You are suggesting that the same cowardice that got us on this dark path will show us the way to a brighter path. I don’t buy it.
I talk about financial fraud and prison sentences not because I enjoy the thought of seeing you behind bars, Anonymous. I talk about financial fraud and prison sentences because I want us as a society to come to terms with what we have done over the past 12 years and to bring the ugly side of this saga to a full and complete stop. I don’t know what the length of your prison sentence would be if you were to come clean today. There has never before in U.S. history been a situation like this. So it is not possible to say. But I know that it is prosecutors who bring charges and I know that prosecutors feel a need to answer to public calls for action. So I believe that the best way to see that your prison sentence is on the short side rather than the long side is to do all that I possibly can do to make the millions of middle-class investors who have been done harm happy with their circumstances rather than angry about their circumstances.
Shiller’s revolutionary 1981 findings represent the biggest advance in the history of personal finance. If we go into the Second Great Depression, it will be the first optional Great Depression in our nation’s history. Shiller has told us how to AVOID a depression. It’s better than that. Shiller has shown us how to avoid all future economic crises, even those not bad enough to turn into depressions. It’s better than that. Shiller has shown us how to reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent. It’s better than that. Shiller has shown us how to invest so that we can retire five to ten years sooner than we ever imagined possible in the Buy-and-Hold Era.
It’s not possible to imagine how it could ever get any better than that.
If we shared what we now know about how stock investing works with the millions of middle-class people who have been done great harm during the 12-year cover-up of the errors in the Old School SWR studies, those millions of people would be far less inclined to demand prosecution of acts of financial fraud than they will be if the cover-up continues and we see another price crash.
Could it be that the millions of middle-class investors will be excited enough about the huge breakthroughs that you Goons could avoid prison altogether?
I don’t know. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to know.
What I know for certain is that, whatever your prison term will be if the cover-up continues until we see another price crash, it is going to be a lot less if you come clean before the close of business today. I have zero doubt re that one.
So I know how we need to proceed.
The way that I propose that we proceed obviously benefits me. But it does not benefit ONLY me. It benefits you Goons. It benefits the millions of middle-class investors. It benefits Bogle. It benefits Shiller. It benefits Pfau. It benefits Motley Fool. It benefits EVERYONE!
We are all in the same boat re this thing. There are no two sides. The idea that there are two sides is an illusion.
We need to stop thinking that there are two sides, recognize that we are all in this together, and work together to do what deep in our hearts we all know needs to be done here.
Am I going to become rich and famous as a result of us all taking the right steps? You betcha! And you know what? That’s just fine. That’s not a problem AT ALL.
Bogle will be ten times the hero following us coming clean than he is today. He is a popular guy today. But when Buy-and-Hold is revised in way that reduces stock investing risk by 70 percent, he will be ten times MORE popular. Bogle is big winners if we all come clean by the close of business today.
So is Shiller.
So is Pfau.
So are you Goons.
So is EVERYONE.
We have to go there. We all know it on some level of consciousness. None of us want this ugly stuff hanging over our heads forever and ever and ever. So we know what we need to do.
Now we just need to work up the courage to do it.
That’s my sincere take re this terribly important matter, in any event.
I wish you all good things, Anonymous.